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HomeGeneralWoman Recounts How Gas Station Heroin Nearly Killed Her

Woman Recounts How Gas Station Heroin Nearly Killed Her

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A 41-year-old Alabama woman, Chrissy Reifschneider, recounted her experience with tianeptine, popularly dubbed “gas station heroin.” Reifschneider had just left rehab to treat her heroin addiction in 2017 when she started taking tianeptine.

A picture of the gas station heroin
Source: Pinterest

The 41-year-old said she struggled with low energy, so a family member who worked at a gas station recommended she try the pills. Reifschneider said she became hooked within days, and three dark years cruised by. Now four years clean, she reflects on the deception that contributed to her tianeptine addiction and the subsequent shame. 

According to medical experts, addiction shines a sobering light on the ongoing mental health crisis that’s driving people to “easy” solutions. “I thought, well, I’m not sticking a needle in my arm,” Reifschneider said. “So I literally convinced myself that I wasn’t a drug addict until I realized I didn’t recognize who I was anymore.” 

She added, “It’s crazy to think that these gas station pills just controlled me.” “I was ashamed because I’d rather people know I was shooting up heroin,” she added. “Than actually spending all this time and money on over-the-counter (drugs).”

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The 41-year-old woman revealed she used to take five pills every four hours. Reifschneider said the pills gave her enough of a “warm, fuzzy buzz” without making her feel clammy or nauseous. According to Reifschneider, the effects were similar to that of doing too much heroin. 

The brand she purchased recommends two capsules daily “or as needed.” However, it advises against exceeding three capsules in 24 hours. After taking it for an extended period, she started to lose her hair and lots of weight and had auditory hallucinations.

She also developed paranoia surrounding electronics, at times using ten cell phones at once. Furthermore, she started convincing herself that she was “better off dead.” Reifschneider would even chat with gas station employees about how dangerous the pills were: “I was silently crying out for help.”

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After several unsuccessful stays in rehab, Reifschneider quit “cold turkey” and entered a withdrawal state for the next six months. Recounting the experience, Reifschneider said it felt similar to but lasted longer than her withdrawal from heroin and fentanyl. 

Besides the short-term effects, Reifschneider says she continues to “feel like a 15-year-old in my brain,” alluding to her debilitating memory problems. “It’s one of my more shameful things,” she said. Since Reifschneider shared her experience on social media, several people have shared theirs too. 

“It was a very dark secret we all kept in our recovery circle because it was so shameful,” she said. “We all felt better about ourselves because we weren’t doing the worst of the worst.” Tianeptine is prescribed as an antidepressant in some European, Asian, and Latin American countries.

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However, it’s not approved for any medical use in the U.S. Still, companies are marketing and selling tianeptine products as dietary supplements, typically in pill and powder form. They claim it can improve brain function and treat depression, anxiety, pain, and even opioid use disorder.

Yet, states like Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, and Tennessee have banned tianeptine. The FDA also says poison control cases involving tianeptine have increased nationwide, from 11 cases between 2000 and 2013 to 151 in 2020.

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